Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Cookies!

During the holidays, I love having cookies around to enjoy by the Christmas tree or give as gifts. I've made two great cookies so far, and I "healthified" them a little, although they are still really delicious, don't worry.

Date Walnut Cookies

These cookies have a really wonderful caramel-y flavor from the dates and are pretty chewy and dense, unlike some healthy "cookies," which are more like muffin tops. Make sure you don't skip over the walnuts, they really add great crunch and nuttiness!
Yield: 18-20 cookies

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. Mix the flaxseed meal with 2 tablespoons water and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour through walnuts) and set aside.
4. Place the dates in a food processor and process until they become a thick paste. Mix in the oil, milk, vanilla, and flax mixture.
5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
6. Shape the dough into 1-tablespoon balls and flatten on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Gingerbread Biscotti

These have a real gingery taste and taste exactly like gingerbread cookies, just crunchy and easily dippable. I don't normally like coffee, but these are really good dipped in coffee!
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. Combine the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a blender and blend until the oats are ground into a flour and all the ingredients are mixed through. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the almonds.
3. In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients (vanilla through milk) and then add to the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
4. Separate the dough into two logs, about 2 inches wide, and then flatten to about 1/2 an inch thick. (do this with wet hands so the dough doesn't stick to you hands, it makes it much easier to handle)
5. Bake the logs for 20-25 minutes, until browned and firm.
6. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes or so, then slice into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay cut-side down on the same baking sheet.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off andleave the biscotti in the oven to cool with the oven door cracked open. This will help crisp them up without burning them.

Happy cookie baking!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Catching Up

Hey Everyone!

Sorry I haven't been around for a while, I've really missed blogging. But I've been pretty busy in November with school and traveling to France! I don't have any new recipes to share with you yet, but I'll share some pictures from my trip to St. Remy de Provence in France.

View from the front door--the pool, garden, and olive trees:

Olives from the olive trees in the garden, which we picked and brought to the co-op to turn into olive oil!:

The gorgeous home we stayed in, called Mas de Pitou (you can rent it for a vacation!):

Delicious pastries from one of the local patisseries (this one is called a Sacristain, it's kind of like an almond croissant rolled into a die for):

The "Barrage de Peiroou," a lake within a 15 minute walk from the house, surrounded by Les Alpilles (those gorgeous rocks). Apparently it's more full in the summer and people go fishing here all the time!:

Persimmon tree from the garden that Vincent Van Gogh looked out over during his stay at the asylum in St. Remy, we got to see the room where he stayed, the scenes he painted, and we even picked persimmons from his tree!: 

Beautiful olives fresh from the trees:

Me picking olives:

Some of the Roman ruins in Glanum, just about a 10 minute walk from the house!:

A beautiful view of the countryside and the vineyards at Chateauneuf de Pape, apparently a very well-known vineyard town:

The Pope's Palace, or "Palais de Papes" in Avignon:

View from the top of the terraced gardens in Avignon:

The famous Pont d'Avignon (Avignon Bridge) in the evening, it doesn't cross the Rhone river because part of it was washed away in a flood in the 1400's, but the rest is absolutely gorgeous, especially at night:

Walking into the town of St. Remy from the house, along the canal. This is also where I ran in the morning, it's a lovely path and only about a 20 minute walk:

The town of St. Remy is filed with these old narrow roads with tons of cute boutiques and little restaurants. We probably walked through the town for 24 hours total, finding new things with each trip:

I had many more great adventures in France, but this definitely gives you an idea of what a fantastic, relaxing time I had. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I meant to post some recipes, but couldn't really do that from France, so I'll be sure to post some for upcoming holidays!